By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
VIERA, Fla., Feb. 23 -- The final line on Odalis Pérez's second stint with the Washington Nationals: zero appearances, zero returned phone calls, zero benefit whatsoever.
On Monday, the Nationals released Pérez, 31, terminating the waiting game that began almost two weeks ago when the left-hander decided not to report to camp. On Feb. 5, Pérez had signed a non-guaranteed minor league contract with Washington, a deal that would pay him $850,000 if he made the club. But after Pérez signed the deal, he regretted it. He held out for a better deal. He never reported to spring training. He cut off all contact with the team.
Sunday was the mandatory reporting date for all players, and Pérez remained out of reach.
Finally, the Nationals cut ties, and the only other question is whether Pérez knows the news.
"He would not return our phone calls, and after talking internally with [Manager] Manny Acta and [pitching coach] Randy St. Claire and the organization, we all feel it's important that we want players here that want to be here and want to help us win, so we made that decision this morning," General Manager Jim Bowden said.
"Well, we left messages yesterday for his agent, left messages for him, again I left messages again this morning, and they've made their point really clear, and so we thanked Odalis. He did a good job for us last year, and we appreciate all he did for us, and obviously we're disappointed it turned out this way, but at the same time we need to turn the page. We've got a lot of pitchers in camp that are committed to helping us win, and we want players that want to be here."
Pérez's first stint with the Nationals had been fruitful for both sides. Signed in February 2008 as insurance for a wobbly pitching staff, Pérez made the team, started on Opening Day and made 30 starts (7-12, 4.34 ERA). But Pérez failed to parlay that solid season into a lucrative deal, and ended up finding little interest on the open market.X-Rays Negative
First baseman Dmitri Young, who was hit on the right hand Sunday by a pitch, has a contusion of his left ring finger. X-rays taken Monday were negative. Young is listed as day-to-day.